Saturday, December 29, 2012

ALEC - Pushing Nuclear/Uranium Mining

A couple of things came together the past two weeks – a press release about a new report that ALEC sent your ALEC legislator – to get them to deregulate mining – and a story about the disaster that was caused by uranium mining that was documented on Common Dreams. 

Always look at coincidences like that as the universes way of telling me I need to put something up on the blog.

First the right-wing nasty side of the story:

ALECReleases "Dig It! Rare Earth and Uranium Mining Potential in the States"       
In-depth report details the economic impact of mineral resource development

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has released a report exploring the strategic and economic importance of mineral resource development to the United States. Dig It! Rare Earth and Uranium Mining Potential in the States details rare earth and uranium mining reserves and production, reviews permitting and regulatory hurdles, estimates the economic benefit of developing reserves, and highlights the safety and environmental track record of mining.
"reviews permitting and regulatory hurdles" – DEREGULATION
"estimates the economic benefit of developing reserves," - ESTIMATES – they don’t know for sure it's another ALEC experiment
"highlights the safety and environmental track record" – which is a misnomer - because there is VERY FEW safety and environmental track record highlights -  based on real life stories that have been published.
If permitting processes are rationalized and rare earth and uranium resources become fully developed in the states, thousands of direct mining jobs could be created.
At what cost to the environment, the commons and the public?

And Heartland had to chime inalso – which appears to be a plagiarism of a piece that was on ALEC’s blog.
An industry with great potential for job creation and economic revitalization remains largely untapped with overly onerous regulatory burdens, unsurprisingly, being the primary roadblock.
De-Regulation – the focus of the second paragraph of the Heartland summary
The initial regulatory hurdle that must be overcome is obtaining the necessary permits and approvals required for building a mine. 
And there is probably a very good reason for this!!!
In some instances, states have even gone beyond mere regulations and have imposed outright bans on certain types of mining.  In Virginia, for example, there is currently a moratorium on uranium mining. 
And there is probably a very good reason for this!!!
Research suggests that by implementing a de facto ban on uranium mining, Virginia is missing out on $7 billion worth of economic development, an increase in person-year employment by 1,900 per year, and $500 million of tax revenue.
Look out Virginia!!!
Today, uranium mining exists in Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and in a handful of other states in the west.  These states are friendly to the mining industry by having reasonable regulations that have successfully prevented any major environmental problems from arising. 
Well – DAMN – let’s take a look at some stories about those states in the “West”!!!!

From Common Dreams – a very detailed examination of what can go drastically wrong with uranium mining.
Here are a few snips to get you interested.

Published on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 by ProPublica
by Abrahm Lustgarten
Christensen has made ends meet by allowing prospectors to tap into minerals and oil and gas beneath his bucolic hills. But from the start, it has been a Faustian bargain.

As dry as this land may be, underground, vast reservoirs hold billions of gallons of water suitable for drinking, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Yet every day injection wells pump more than 200,000 gallons of toxic and radioactive waste from uranium mining into Christensen's aquifers.

What is happening in this remote corner of Wyoming affects few people other than Christensen — at least for now.

But a roiling conflict between state and federal regulators over whether to allow more mining at Christensen Ranch — and the damage that comes with it — has pitted the feverish drive for domestic energy against the need to protect water resources for the future.
Didn’t we just read something similar to this – except it was through the rose colored corporate glasses version that is proposed by ALEC’s new report they sent to ALEC legislators?

Twenty-five years ago, the EPA and Wyoming officials agreed that polluting the water beneath Christensen Ranch was an acceptable price for producing energy there.

The Safe Drinking Water Act forbids injecting industrial waste into or above drinking water aquifers, but the EPA issued what are called aquifer exemptions that gave mine operators at the ranch permission to ignore the law. Over the last three decades, the agency has issued more than 1,500 such exemptions nationwide, allowing energy and mining companies to pollute portions of at least 100 drinking water aquifers.
The results of DEREGULATION

Federal regulators also have become less certain that it is possible to clean up contamination from uranium mining. At Christensen Ranch and elsewhere, efforts to cleanse radioactive pollutants from drinking water aquifers near the surface have failed and uranium and its byproducts have sometimes migrated beyond containment zones, records show.
FAILED – efforts to cleanse pollutants have FAILED.

In 1982, when Wyoming officials anticipated the need for an aquifer exemption at Christensen Ranch, the state's then-governor, Ed Herschler, wrote to urge EPA officials to streamline their review of such requests and not to delay energy projects or interfere with Wyoming regulators. Steven Durham, the EPA's regional administrator at the time, wrote back to assure the governor the EPA would not second guess state officials, and that he had adjusted the rules so that they "should assure a speedy finalization of any exemptions."
Streamline the procedures – hurry up – don’t take the time to do it right.
Turn it over to the states – let them decide – the ALEC policy – what ALEC is saying needs to be done in the new report they sent out to ALEC legislators.

Still, Christensen, who continued to run stock on his land, saw the pollution as an inconvenience, not a threat. He was assured that the mine operator could steer contaminants toward the center of the exemption zone by manipulating pressure underground.

"That was our best quality water," Christensen said. "I've been given to believe that it is not sacrificed, that they will restore the groundwater quality."
When are people going to learn that CORPORATIONS LIE FOR PROFIT!!!

In July 2004, contaminants were detected in one of the monitoring wells surrounding the mining facility at Christensen Ranch.

But according to documents from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Cogema — the company then handling the restoration effort — could not fix the problem or identify its cause. The company tested water from the area and examined their injection wells for defects, but told state officials they believed the contaminants had occurred naturally and were not from the mine.

For six years, the contaminants continued to spread, disappearing for short periods as the restoration progressed only to reappear again, records show.

"This really shouldn't happen," said Glenn Mooney, a senior state geologist who oversaw the Christensen Ranch site for Wyoming from the late 1970s until last July.
No it shouldn’t – but it did and the Common Dreams/ProPublica docu-article continues with the drama expanding to South Dakota and Texas with similar problems from uranium mining – states being in control of the situation and the EPA making exceptions to industry regulations – because.

Changing of regulations to fit industry demands – exactly what ALEC is asking for in their new report sent to ALEC legislators.  When in fact – doing so – has ALREADY been shown to be disastrous across the US.

When are we going to wake up and say no more to this disastrous destruction of our commons – our water – by oil and mining exploration.

But the story doesn’t stop there – it didn’t take me long to find more examples of problems caused by uranium mining –
Here are a couple of snips from an article that looks at the human tragedy of uranium mining.
    June 15, 2010 by Jen Jackson
Here in the West, uranium mining continues its wobbly resurgence.

In 2003, a time of cheap oil, there were only 321 uranium miners working in the West, producing 779 tons of uranium that year. In 2008, there were over 1,500, who produced about 1,500 tons.

If uranium makes a strong comeback, what other such tragedies lie ahead?

And there is this entire webpage dedicated to documenting more problems with uranium mining on the Native American lands – with story after story of disaster.
Here are links and descriptions of the largest nuclear mining disasters in the U.S.
The Biggest U.S. Uranium Mining Disasters

The snips from this article not only look at the possible disaster to our greatest natural resource – but also note the danger of the transport of uranium, once it is mined.
By Klee Benally
Global Research, March 14, 2010
Impending Environmental Disaster: Uranium Mining Begins Near Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon, AZ — In defiance of legal challenges and a U.S. Government moratorium, Canadian company Denison Mines has started mining uranium on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. According to the Arizona Daily Sun the mine has been operating since December 2009.

Denison plans on extracting 335 tons of uranium ore per day out of the “Arizona 1 Mine”, which is set to operate four days per week. The hazardous ore will be hauled by truck more than 300 miles through towns and communities to the company’s White Mesa mill located near Blanding, Utah.

And even though the article above was written in 2010, a year later another article pops up noting the “disastrous pollution” in the “West” - that ALEC was touting earlier as “friendly to mining” – caused by uranium mining and detailing the threat to the Grand Canyon, the Colorado river and DRINKING WATER in the “West”.
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Uranium mining has left a legacy of disastrous pollution in the West, and now mining poses a risk to the Grand Canyon — one of our greatest national parks. Thousands of new mining claims threaten to destroy the canyon’s stunning landscape and pollute the Colorado River — a major source of drinking water for Nevada — according to a report released today by Environment Nevada entitled “Grand Canyon at Risk: Uranium Mining Doesn't Belong Near Our National Treasures.”

Why – why is this becoming an issue?
Currently there are 104 nuclear reactors in the United States which supply 20% of the U.S.’s electricity. In January the Obama administration approved a $54 billion dollar taxpayer loan in a guarantee program for new nuclear reactor construction, three times what Bush previously promised in 2005.

And the ALEC spiral of destruction seems to have come full circle from their announcement at the beginning of this entry - with that last snip about nuclear reactors..

In Minnesota
In Minnesota the biggest proponents in the past few years for more nuclear energy were ALEC members Amy Koch and Joyce Peppin.

ALEC members pushing for more nuclear energy – now, a new ALEC report pushing deregulation of uranium for nuclear energy plants.

Do you see the connection folks????
Then let’s try this one - - - - - - - - -

In Virginia
Offered January 9, 2008
Prefiled January 9, 2008
Establishing a joint subcommittee to study nuclear power within the Commonwealth. Report.
Patrons-- Cuccinelli, Newman and Wagner
In conducting its study, the joint subcommittee shall (i) address all aspects of the production of nuclear power, including the mining of uranium the impact of the new nuclear plants on electricity rates; (ii) examine the economic development potential of nuclear power; (iii) consider whether the General Assembly should take action to support the development of additional nuclear power facilities in the Commonwealth; and (v) examine the advisability of permitting the mining of uranium for use within the Commonwealth in the generation of power.
ALL ALEC members – ALL pushing for more nuclear AND uranium mining
Coincidence – hell no!

Especially when you consider that in the new ALEC report it notes:
One such state that could stand to benefit from such mining is Virginia, which has had a moratorium on uranium mining for over thirty years.  Dig It!'s research finds that if the moratorium was lifted, Virginia would see an increase in state GSP of $7 billion and an increase in state revenue by $500 million.

And the Heartland synopsis (noted above) of the new ALEC report goes on to state:
Research suggests that by implementing a de facto ban on uranium mining, Virginia is missing out on $7 billion worth of economic development, an increase in person-year employment by 1,900 per year, and $500 million of tax revenue.

Look out Virginia!!!

If the Grand Canyon isn’t sacrosanct 
to ALEC legislators 
– your state sure as hell isn’t.


From Heartland
January 07, 2013

The Virginia Coal and Energy Commission today voted 11-2 (with three abstentions) to lift the 31-year-old moratorium on mining for uranium, a recommendation limited only to Pittsylvania County and subject to approval by the General Assembly.

The vote came three days after The Heartland Institute released and circulated heavily in Virginia a new policy study titled Uranium Mining in Virginia: Environmental and Safety Considerations.

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